Choosing a new device, companion to my MacBook Pro

Discussion in 'Alternatives to iOS and iOS Devices' started by skaertus, Jan 3, 2014.

  1. skaertus macrumors 68030

    skaertus

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2009
    Location:
    Brazil
    #1
    Here's the deal:

    I do have a 15-inch MacBook Pro with retina display that I bought last year when I traveled to the US. It is a fantastic machine and I use it for everything.

    I am also the owner of a 3rd gen iPad which I bought in 2012. It is a good machine for what it is intended to be, but it is not really suited for my kind of work (which is basically office work, with a lot of use of e-mail (and several e-mail attachments) and Microsoft Office applications.

    I take my laptop everyday to work (I don't take the iPad), as it is very useful for me. However, I feel the 15-inch MacBook is large and not casual. I cannot just open it during a meeting without it taking a lot of space and calling everybody else's attention.

    In addition, it is a very expensive machine to be carried around everyday. It costs US$ 5,000 here in Brazil and there are lots of robbers in the traffic lights waiting for us (I already had my iPhone stolen here, so I don't want to take chances with my Mac). I would prefer to leave my Mac home and take something else (cheaper) to work everyday.

    I am traveling to the US again next month (and again in March, probably) and I am thinking of buying some companion to my Mac. A smaller and lighter device that can handle my kind of work, and which I can carry to work everyday without calling too much attention. Something I can open during a meeting and that nobody would care. And, yes, it must run Microsoft Office. An iPad is out of question here.

    Although the MacBook Air is nice, it's not what I want. I don't like the TN low-resolution screen, so I won't buy one.

    I was thinking more of a Windows device. Perhaps a Microsoft Surface Pro 2, which behaves very much like a tablet, but which is basically a full-featured laptop. Or a Dell Venue 11 Pro, which is less powerful, but cheaper.

    I was thinking of something with a 10-11 inch display and an Intel processor running Windows. I would like it to be thin and light (2 lbs maximum). I would prefer if it is a tablet that can be converted into a laptop, and has a touch screen. A tablet only will not do, as I need the keyboard. If it has 3G/LTE connectivity, it's even better (but I'm not counting on this, though, as it would restrict my choices). I would like it to have a good display (by that, I mean an IPS display with a 1920x1080 resolution at least - could be more).

    As for price, I don't want to pay a fortune for it. I am already the owner of an expensive 15-inch retina MacBook Pro, which is my main computer. I want something cheaper and for day-to-day office work. I am not willing to pay more than US$ 1,000 for it. But, if it is really worth it, I may think about it.

    I think the Asus Zenbook Infinity and the Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus are really good machines, but they are not that different from my current Mac. They are just laptops in a smaller scale. I was thinking about something more casual, and that's why the Surface Pro 2 came to my mind. Or the Dell Venue 11 Pro, which has the advantages of being cheaper and lighter, although less powerful.

    Does anybody has any thought or suggestion on this?
     
  2. ozaz macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2011
    Location:
    UK
    #2
    2 suggestions

    If, apart from Office, you don't need traditional desktop apps, consider the ARM-based Surface 2.

    If you do need other traditional desktop apps, consider a Atom based Windows 8 tablet like Asus transformer book T100.

    You won't need a Surface Pro for just MS Office and email.

    The ASUS, in particular, is very low cost and I think both would come with Office for free.

    EDIT: The Venue Pro 11 you mentioned looks good too. I had not noticed it before
     
  3. skaertus thread starter macrumors 68030

    skaertus

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2009
    Location:
    Brazil
    #3
    Thanks for the suggestions.

    As for an ARM-based device, such as the non-Pro Surface 2, I thought of that and I came to the conclusion that it won't fit my needs. I need additional software. Microsoft Office is the most important piece of software I use, but it's not the only one. I use Office add-ons such as Zotero, and that is not available for ARM-based processors. I don't want to limit myself, and that's why the iPad is not a choice. An ARM-based device will not be an option as well.

    As for the Asus Transformer Book T100, I thought of that too, but the resolution is too low, just 1366x768. My MacBook has a 2880x1800 resolution and I am used to high resolutions where I cannot see the individual pixels. And I like having a large work area. So, I would prefer a device with a resolution of at least 1920x1080.

    That's why I thought of the Surface Pro 2 and the Venue 11 Pro. Any other suggestions?
     
  4. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2005
    #4
    Keep in mind that high resolutions work against you, by and large, right now on Windows. Many people will find the UI element size too small to work with on a screen like the Surface Pro. I can manage it, but even with near perfect vision, it's not comfortable for a long period of time.

    As a companion device, how about an Atom-based device like the Dell Venue 11 or the upcoming Thinkpad Tablet 3? These are about the size, weight and thickness of an iPad, but run full Windows and have real all day battery life.
     
  5. skaertus thread starter macrumors 68030

    skaertus

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2009
    Location:
    Brazil
    #5
    Yes, I know that. I'll have to test it first. But my girlfriend has an 11-inch laptop with a 1366x768 resolution and I find it very poor. The pixels look large and I don't like using it at all.

    I thought about the Dell Venue 11 Pro. It's an option I am considering. As for the ThinkPad Tablet 3, I have not yet seen anything on it. Do you have any information or link to share?
     
  6. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2005
    #6
    It's true that the pixels will look a bit large, but the alternative is scaling a higher resolution screen that looks worse still, and isn't consistent across apps. Chrome, for example, doesn't scale at all.

    I have not seen too much about the Tablet 3 yet, but it must be coming soon. I still think the current Tablet 2 is one of the best Windows tablets out there. Amazingly thin and light with great battery life and a digitizer and stylus storage built-in, plus a proper keyboard companion.
     
  7. ozaz macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2011
    Location:
    UK
    #7
    Ok, fair enough on ARM not being an option. A intel core based device like the Surface Pro 2 seems overkill though, based on the usage scenario you have described. An atom based device seems ideal.

    I agree with what you said earlier about getting tablet with a bespoke keyboard solution. I tried to combine a thinkpad tablet 2 with a generic bluetooth keyboard in the past and the experience was clunky.

    I'm not sure about the other atom based options. I imagine every manufacturer has one, I just haven't been paying attention. They are probably all the same performance wise. I guess you just have to focus on the screen and keyboard quality.
     
  8. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2005
    #8
    The Tablet 2 has a real keyboard accessory.

    [​IMG]

    And a pretty decent sleeve to store the entire thing in.

    [​IMG]
     
  9. ozaz macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2011
    Location:
    UK
    #9
    Yeah, I know. I didn't get one because I wanted a clamshell or folio style keyboard, so I went for a bluetooth one, but I won't be doing that again with a Wndows tablet.
     
  10. skaertus thread starter macrumors 68030

    skaertus

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2009
    Location:
    Brazil
    #10
    For me, the problem with the Tablet 2 is the screen resolution, which is only 1366x768. Perhaps I get used to it, but my retina Mac spoiled me. I cannot even think of buying anything below 1920x1080 right now, and even then I think it's a low resolution.

    ----------

    I've searched the options, but the results were not very encouraging.

    The only options I found so far that fit my needs are the Surface 2 Pro and the Dell Venue 11 Pro.

    The HP Omni 10 could do that, but it doesn't have any keyboard as accessory, as far as I am concerned.

    Sharp has a neat tablet, which is the Mebius Pad, with an IGZO display with a 2560x1440 resolution, but it's not available in the US, and it will probably be sold only in Japan when launched.
     
  11. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2005
    #11
    I'm with you - since I got my first iPhone 4, I've never looked at screens the same again.

    That said, for Windows tablets, I'm still on the fence. Because of the scaling issues, those high res screens bring a lot of trade offs of their own.

    I initially bought both the Surface Pro and the Tablet 2, ultimately returning the Tablet 2, but a year plus on, I'm not sure it was the best decision unless you really want a laptop replacement not a companion device. The Tablet 2 is so much slimmer and lighter that it really wants to go everywhere with you and the fact that you can store the stylus on it means you're can lose it like you inevitably will on the Surface Pro.

    That's why I think the Tablet 3 with the new Atom processor and hopefully, a better screen, will be a killer device.
     
  12. skaertus thread starter macrumors 68030

    skaertus

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2009
    Location:
    Brazil
    #12
    Thanks, but are there any news or rumors on the Tablet 3? I haven't heard of any... and, more importantly, when will it be released? I'll be in the US in February, and it is absolutely useless for me if the tablet is released in April or May.
     
  13. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2005
    #13
    Haven't heard about the Tablet 3 yet, but they just revealed the Thinkpad 8 which is an 8" Bay Trail device running Windows 8. 64GB for $399 and 1920x1200 (not 16:9 - YES!). Looks nice if it's not too small.

    http://reviews.cnet.com/tablets/lenovo-thinkpad-8/4505-3126_7-35833729.html
     

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